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Opinion

Japan must shake off US-style globalization

The likely next prime minister outlines his hopes for a more Asia-focused Japan.

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Our responsibility as politicians is to refocus our attention on those non-economic values that have been thrown aside by the march of globalism. We must work on policies that regenerate the ties that bring people together, that take greater account of nature and the environment, that rebuild welfare and medical systems, that provide better education and child rearing support, and that address wealth disparities. This is required in order to create an environment in which each individual citizen is able to pursue happiness.

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Overcoming nationalism through an East Asian community

Another national goal that emerges from the concept of fraternity is the creation of an East Asian community. Off course, the Japan-US security pact will continue to be the cornerstone of Japanese diplomatic policy. Unquestionably, the Japan-US relationship is an important pillar of our diplomacy. However, at the same time, we must not forget our identity as a nation located in Asia. I believe that the East Asian region, which is showing increasing vitality in its economic growth and even closer mutual ties, must be recognized as Japan's basic sphere of being. Therefore, we must continue to make efforts to build frameworks for stable economic cooperation and national security across the region.

The recent financial crisis has suggested to many people that the era of American unilateralism may come to an end. It has also made people harbor doubts about the permanence of the dollar as the key global currency. I also feel that as a result of the failure of the Iraq war and the financial crisis, the era of US-led globalism is coming to an end and that we are moving away from a unipolar world toward an era of multipolarity.

However, at present, there is no one country ready to replace the United States as the world's most dominant country. Neither is there a currency ready to replace the dollar as the world's key currency.

Although the influence of the US is declining, it will remain the world's leading military and economic power for the next two to three decades. Current developments show clearly that China, which has by far the world's largest population, will become one of the world's leading economic nations, while also continuing to expand its military power.

The size of China's economy will surpass that of Japan in the not-too-distant future. How should Japan maintain its political and economic independence and protect its national interest when caught between the United States, which is fighting to retain its position as the world's dominant power, and China, which is seeking ways to become dominant?

This is a question of concern not only to Japan but also to the small and medium-sized nations in Asia. They want the military power of the US to function effectively for the stability of the region but want to restrain US political and economic excesses. They also want to reduce the military threat posed by our neighbor China while ensuring that China's expanding economy develops in an orderly fashion. These are major factors accelerating regional integration.

Today, as the supranational political and economic philosophies of Marxism and globalism have, for better or for worse, stagnated, nationalism is once again starting to have a major influence on policymaking decisions in various countries. As symbolized by the anti-Japanese riots that occurred in China a few years ago, the spread of the Internet has accelerated the integration of nationalism and populism, and the emergence of uncontrollable political turbulence is a very real risk.

As we maintain an awareness of this environment and seek to build new structures for international cooperation, we must overcome excessive nationalism and go down a path toward rule-based economic cooperation and security.